Addressing Global Climate Change
In my 30 years in the Senate, I have focused above all on issues of national security. I see the issue of global climate change as fitting squarely in that focus. Working to address and reduce the effects of global climate change is another way of keeping America safe.
Recently, the Military Advisory Board released its nonpartisan study, "National Security and the Threat to Climate Change." This study cited many of the problems our nation could face as a result of unmitigated global climate change. I agree with many of the points made in this study, because global climate change "has the potential to result in multiple chronic conditions, occurring globally within the same time frame." The threat of extreme weather events not only in our own country, but also around the world could stretch our relief efforts thin and prevent the United States from effectively supporting stability in countries affected by flooding, drought, and pandemic disease. In addition, many of our defense installations are globally located in coastal regions, areas most vulnerable to rising sea levels and storm surges. Please know that I remain committed to identifying our most vulnerable installations and working toward a solution to keep our military safe on our coasts as well coasts abroad.
In numerous hearings before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and in meetings with the private sector, I have come to appreciate the challenges our nation has in addressing this complex issue.
In going through this process, I have also come to believe that it is the responsibility of the legislative branch to act, and act now. Any federal program that addresses global climate change must allow for an economy-wide approach that incorporates market-based flexibility, provides for a measure of federal investment in new technologies, includes cost-containment mechanisms, has environmental integrity, and ensures international participation by developed and developing nations.
On October 18, 2007, I joined my colleague, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), to introduce bipartisan climate change legislation that embodies those principles. Originally known as America’s Climate Security Act (S.2191), Senator Lieberman and I worked hard to move this important legislation through the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, of which we are both members, and we were pleased to see it reported favorably out of Committee on December 5th. This critical legislation was debated before the full Senate, but failed to come to a final vote. This bill has opened a Senate dialogue on an issue vital to America’s future, and I look forward to seeing a program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enacted in the near future.